Who was Herbert von Karajan? What lurks behind the enigmatic face of this
man, on whom more has been written than on any other member of his
profession? For many, he was the epitome of classical music, for others
the embodiment of the music market. He was the last dictator among
orchestral conductors, and the first successful large-scale music
entrepreneur. And in everything he did, he was ahead of his time.
This documentary is the first to truly penetrate behind Karajan's regal
façade. The program is structured along the personal recollections and
interviews, the rehearsals and concerts of the maestro. Much of the
material has been drawn from the archives of Unitel, the firm that produced
his music films for 12 years. This footage is supplemented by many candid
and revealing comments by some of the men and women who accompanied him on
his path to legendary status. The result is a multi-faceted, multi-layered
portrait of the artist - a portrait that ultimately deepens the mystery of
one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century.
Directed by Robert Dornhelm (War and Peace), the film includes statements
by Karajan's wife and daughters, by professionals of the music industry,
and by such great artists as Gundula Janowitz, Yevgeni Kissin, René Kollo,
Mariss Jansons, Christa Ludwig, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon
Rattle, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sir Georg Solti and Christian Thielemann.
From the tears Karajan shed upon listening to Yevgeni Kissin's piano
playing to statements such as: "If there is still so much within me that
must be expressed and my body refuses to comply, then nature must provide
me with another body" - the film sheds light on the full spectrum of a
profoundly mesmerizing and contradictory personality.